It is difficult to believe that these days a multi-state company either has no relevant polices or employee handbook, or conducts so little training that it’s managers are permitted to ask a job applicant in-depth questions about his religious beliefs and affiliations, and then refuse to hire him when they do not agree with or like his responses.
The EEOC unsurprisingly jumped on this one, apparently because the managers of Voss Electric Company allegedly so egregiously violated Title VII. Amazingly an EEOC trial attorney claimed that “Voss Lighting appears to have a corporate culture that requires employees adhere to certain religious beliefs that have absolutely no bearing on the business of selling lighting products.”
The EEOC sued Voss Electric Company (also known as Voss Lighting), a leading supplier of specialized replacement lighting products with offices in 16 US cities. According to the complaint, Voss Lighting advertised a vacancy for an “operations supervisor,” a position which involved no religious duties or responsibilities. Edward Wolfe applied and was considered qualified for the position.
However, two managers asked him repeatedly about his religious activities and beliefs; to identify every church he had attended over several years; where and when he was “saved” and the circumstances that led up to it; and whether he “would have a problem” coming into work early to attend Bible study. At the second interview, the branch manager became upset over Wolfe’s responses and he was refused employment.
As expected, the EEOC is seeking not only back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and reinstatement or front pay for Wolfe, but also a court order prohibiting Voss Lighting from any further such religious discrimination against applicants.
Please don’t be a Voss. Know the law and have your managers and employees act accordingly.